Public submissions can now be made on the recently released Intensification Planning Instruments (IPI). 

The IPI process was introduced by the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 (Amendment Act), requiring councils to amend their district plans to provide for high and medium density development, in an effort to address the steadily increasing demand for housing.

The Amendment Act brought forward the intensification requirements in the Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (NPS-UD), and introduced Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS), placing obligations on relevant territorial authorities to implement minimum development requirements in their planning documents.

MDRS enable three dwellings up to three stories in all urban environments residential zones in New Zealand's largest regions as a permitted activity (with the applicable authority labelled as tier 1 in the NPS-UD).  Tier 1 authorities must also allow for at least up to six-storey buildings within walkable catchments of the following:

  • Existing and planned rapid transit stops
  • The edge of city centre zones
  • The edge of metropolitan centre zones.

However, 'qualifying matters' can be applied to allow councils to restrict the application of MDRS.  For example, if an area has historic heritage or outstanding natural character.

To ensure that councils quickly adopt the new MDRS, IPIs are notified under the Intensification Streamlined Planning Process (ISPP).  While similar to a regular plan change in some respects, the ISPP is a shorter process with very limited opportunity to appeal final decisions.  Once publicly notified, aspects of the IPI will have immediate legal effect. 

Notification of IPI has occurred across all the tier 1 authorities in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, and Canterbury regions, and separately Rotorua Lakes Council.  Waikato District Council and Christchurch City Council have received extensions to notify their IPI in mid-September 2022.  Each territorial authority has taken a different approach to implementing the MDRS and NPS-UD so careful consideration of the IPI is required and the closing dates for submissions vary across the country.

Our national environment and resource management team has been following the development of IPIs and the application of the MDRS and NPS-UD closely.  Please contact a member of our team if you have any questions on this process.